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Colorado hosts children who lost fathers in war in Ukraine: "We're going to hug them a lot all these two weeks"

Dozens of Ukrainian children arrive in Colorado to spend time with host families
Dozens of Ukrainian children arrive in Colorado to spend time with host families 03:09

A dozen children arrived at Denver International Airport from Ukraine Thursday to spend two weeks in Colorado. All of the children, 11-13 years old have experienced the direct pains of the war. Nine have lost a father killed in action, three others have fathers who were gravely wounded.

The Colorado-based Ukraine Aid Fund reached out to help bring the children to Colorado for two weeks.

"We have friends who lost their lives," said Taras Overchuk, President of the Ukraine Aid Fund. "Children pay the highest price."

Many of those involved with the aid fund are natives of Ukraine. Overchuk came to the United States in 2012. Like many around the world he viewed America as a beacon of freedom that stands for principle.


"What else if not America right?"

Watching the war from overseas is difficult, especially with political debate in the United States over continuing aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russian invaders.

"We need still to fight for the freedom for these kids in the future and yeah I really hope American people would support this effort."

"You watch things on the news all the time and it's like a helpless feeling," said sponsor Leslie Ginsburg. "It's really been overwhelming to find out the humanity that people have for this project."

Roman and Olena Butenko were among those opening their home. Olena brought a traditional Ukrainian bread, which people broke in welcome to the children. 

"They'll forget about a little bit what's going on right now in Ukraine," said Roman. "Every single story is hard," said Olena. They took in two girls, Solomia and Lialia, who are twins.


"I already like them," said Solomia. "I'm very happy to be in the United States. Very beautiful country."

The kids will spend a week in Denver with their host families here getting to visit sports like the Museum of Nature and Science. 

Then with the help of other supporters head to Vail for a week of outdoor time. 

"We're going to hug them a lot all these two weeks. And then we're going to cry when they're going back. So it's going to be hard to let them go," said Overchuk.

Bob Kagan and his wife welcomed two boys. Both had lost their fathers in the war. "His father volunteered and he was killed four months afterwards," he learned of one of the boys. 


"I do have three of my nephews fighting right now," said Kagan, who came to the US from Ukraine as a boy about the age of the two he welcomed for a visit. 

He later served with the National Guard in the United States.

"I'm probably more red white and blue than yellow and blue," he said, but then agreed this day, he was more yellow and blue. 

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